This past Friday, I grabbed one of the Starboard Race 14′ x 25″ demos from Carolina Paddleboard Company and paddled into a ripping outgoing tide and an 8-knot ENE wind around the Harbor Island Loop in Wrightsville Beach.

Of all the boards I’ve tried in the past few weeks, I was the least comfortable on this one, at first. It has low primary stability but very high secondary stability. In other words,  the first inch or two of roll from left to right feels like it’s going to tip over, but then, it simply doesn’t. It’s solid. It just took some getting used to. It took a mile or so to get into a rhythm, to feel how it reacted to currents and boat wakes, to feel how it liked the bumps. While I agree that it’s ALL ABOUT THE ENGINE, my engine recently feels as powerful as those that come in a Yugo. That’s why I thought paddling this the Starboard Race helped me ignore my lack of horsepower and just flowed through the water with very little resistance and held its glide.

By the end of my paddle, even after talking to some fishermen about a school of Sheepshead chasing glass minnows in Mott’s Channel (which I’ve never seen in a school before), I was seven minutes faster than the best of my previous 4 runs.

Granted, this kind of result without a GPS is like playing telephone. The board tells your feet a story, the nose and entry of the board tells your eyes a story. The weight of the water, the paddle and the board tell your body a story. And your time tells your brain a story. None of them are the real story. They’re are just parts, feelings.

Without a GPS and without actual data, there’s no way to tell if you’re actually faster on one board or another. I used to think that if you felt fast, go with the board. And if you felt slow, ditch it. But the more I paddle the more I realize it needs to be more organic, holistic, educated. Take your typical paddle conditions, you race goals and their conditions, the feel of a board and the data and make your decision. Then, stick with it. Find a board that pushes your ability slightly and learn it. Get to know what it does in each situation. BOND.

What goes into FAST? Balancing the width and design of a board with the least resistance with being stable enough to get a good plant and a full pull on the paddle. If a 22″ wide board is the fastest on Earth and you fall off it, it’s not that fast. This board was just beyond my threshold for comfort in flat water, but something I feel like I could easily figure out with a few hours of paddling. I’d need to take it into the ocean to see how to use the design to flow with the swells. It’d be interesting on a downwind. I need to work on my core and balance. AND leg strength. But in flatwater, currents, chop, it was great.

The Starboard Race is a blend of the All-Star and the Sprint and it’s marketed as the all-around race board. It comes in a few widths, so depending on your weight, experience level and conditions, there’s one for just about everyone.

I never had water on the deck. The dual scuppers worked great. It has a super concave through the tail and seemed to get up on plane easily, especially against current. The nose never lost contact with the water into the wind, so there was little hull slap, although I do tend to get too far forward on boards. I know this is an issue, but I keep doing it. Someone help me.

The net/net, I am completely intrigued and can’t wait to get back on this board. I had my fastest time, but had to earn it. I made me immediately conscious of my physical limitations, but also inspired me to get back into the gym and back on my balance board. It’s a challenge worth taking. The 27″ wide version would probably be the one I’d suggest for most people, including myself if I am going into the ocean, the 25″ version for flatwater races, like Chattajack.

 

From the Starboard Website:

The “Race” was born by breading all the speed elements of the Sprint and the user-friendliness and sea keeping ability of the All Star. One board quiver that works in flat water racing and ocean races. The most versatile board in the 27.5 “width.

Available sizes:

14’0” X 27”
14’0” X 25”
12’6” X 27.5”
12’6” X 25.5”

Constructions:

Custom Carbon Sandwich
Custom Glass Carbon

As with all Starboards, get your orders in, find one and buy it early in the season. For more information, contact Jason at Carolina Paddleboard Company, Dan Gavere and Mark Colino at Starboard.